20210410-SPT-baseball

Alex Charles, pictured here in a Sentinel file photo, celebrates during a 2019 game. Charles will be one of the senior leaders on this year’s Keene High team.

It’s finally time for baseball.

For the first time since 2019, local high school baseball teams will take the diamond starting Monday, with a few teams looking to make deep runs in the postseason tournament. Here’s a look at the local high school baseball teams:

Keene

Behind seniors Zach Mooers, Peter Haas and Alex Charles, the Keene High baseball team hopes to make a deep run in the NHIAA Division I postseason tournament and compete for a state title. Haas will get the start on opening day for the Blackbirds. Ninth-year head coach Dan Moylan described Mooers as “one of the best players in the state” and said he hopes to see a lot out of the senior this season. Moylan added that there are spots in the lineup, particularly in the outfield, that can still be earned by whoever steps up. He’s already seen a lot of competition for those spots.

Coach: Dan Moylan (ninth year)

2019 record: 13-8, lost to Portsmouth in first round of NHIAA Division I tournament

Top players lost: Noah Timmer, Marcus Soucia, Logan Thatcher; Tucker Brown (transfer to Lawrence Academy), Liam Yardley (transfer to Lawrence Academy)

Top players returning: Sr. Zach Mooers, Sr. Peter Haas, Sr. Alex Charles, Sr. Liam Conley

Newcomers to watch: Jr. Jared Schmitt, Jr. Jonah Frost, Jr. Sharik Kahn

First game: April 12 at Trinity High School

Coach’s thoughts:

“We anticipate being one of the better teams in the state, based on our talent. We’ve got a lot of good players, a lot of good competition for kids to play, so I’m hopeful that we can compete at the state level and late into the state tournament. We should be able to do that with the talent we have.”

“For me, this is about the competition of play. There are some spots in the outfield for people to earn spots. Some people are going to hopefully jump out and play well, so I’m anxious to see some of the younger kids … perform. Hopefully there will be some nice stories or surprises for kids to get a chance to play at the varsity level and get it going. We have some good players — they’re good, young players — but, again, they haven’t played at this level so hopefully we can see that happen.”

Monadnock

Monadnock head coach Tom Cote, in his first official year as head coach after last season was canceled, has high hopes for his squad this season. The upperclassman-heavy roster brings experience to the diamond, in a year where any kind of experience is extra valuable. The Huskies have a tough regular season schedule, but Cote said he is looking forward to the challenges of facing tough pitching early to get his team ready for the postseason tournament. The goal is to avoid a repeat of 2019, where Monadnock ran into a top pitcher in the first round of the NHIAA tournament, prematurely ending the Huskies’ season.

Coach: Tom Cote (second year)

2019 record: 14-2, lost to Prospect Mountain in the first round of NHIAA Division III tournament

Top players lost: Carl Hoden, Clay Kaufman, Eric Chase, Connor Brannen

Top players returning: Jr. Kevin Putnam, Jr. Hayden Haddock, Sr. Trevor Heise, Sr. Nate Doyle, Sr. Victor Lotito, Sr. Will O’Brien

Newcomers to watch: So. Cam Olivo, Fr. Ben Dean, Jr. Ryan Cornwell, Jr. Carson Shanks

First game: April 16 vs. Keene

Coach’s thoughts:

“Should be solid all the way around from the looks of it. Just the scare for us is that a lot of these kids haven’t played baseball for two full years, so hitting-wise and pitching I think is going to be an issue for us so we’re going to try to work on that.”

“It’s going to be hard to gauge given the schedule this year … but I see us being a really solid Division III team this year. I think we’d be in the top eight if we were playing a typical Division III schedule.”

“This year you look at it as a coach a little differently. Like, let’s just get them prepared for that open tournament and try to make a run at the championship just knowing that a lot of these games don’t matter during the regular season. And we’re going to face some tough pitchers along the way, so I’m looking at it as positive for us heading into the tournament knowing we’re going to be battle-testing against some good pitchers.”

ConVal

The Cougars are fielding a young team this season but bring back a handful of student-athletes who have varsity experience from two years ago. Austin Sloan is the only senior on the roster and will lead ConVal through a competitive regular season. First year head coach Matt Harris is also going to turn to his underclassmen to step up during the regular season and use the competitive schedule to prepare themselves for the Division II postseason.

Coach: Matt Harris (first year)

2019 record: 14-5, lost to St. Thomas Aquinas in NHIAA Division II quarterfinals

Top players lost: Thomas Fagiano

Top players returning: Sr. Austin Sloan, Jr. Elias Niemela, Jr. Sam Scheinblum, Jr. Zack Boyd

Newcomers to watch: So. Joe Gutwein, So. Brady Carpentiere, Jr. Owen McGuire

First game: April 14 vs. Milford HS

Coach’s thoughts:

“The biggest thing I want us to be able to do is compete, and I think we are. Even though we’re young, we have … a lot of baseball knowledge. Looking to get some quality varsity innings and build.”

“With how the postseason is … we can kind of use the regular season as spring training and get ourselves ready to go and hopefully compete when it comes to postseason time.”

“It’s going to be a fun year, and I’m really excited to watch these kids get out on the field and actually compete because … it’s been two years since high school baseball. It’s going to be something fun and I think the kids are getting excited to be able to put on their school colors and represent.”

Conant

Head coach Aric LeClair, in his first full year after missing last season, feels optimistic about this group, or at least he feels optimistic about what he’s seen from the group so far. LeClair said he wants to use the regular season to get a better grasp on exactly what kind of talent he’s working with, but the Orioles could find themselves as a dark horse in this year’s Division III tournament.

Coach: Aric LeClair (second year)

2019 record: 9-7, lost to Bishop Brady in first round of NHIAA Division III tournament

Top players lost: Preston Kirby

Top players returning: Sr. Colson Seppala, Sr. Hayden Ketola, Sr. Griffin LeBonte, Jr. Garrett Somero, Jr. Malique Motazes

Newcomers to watch: So. Luke Lambert

First game: April 13 at Winnisquam HS

Coach’s thoughts:

“Just judging by what I’m seeing on the field right now, I think we’re going to be pretty competitive. … I want to be competitive and go out there and play each game at a time and show that we can play with everybody.”

“I think these guys are going to surprise a lot of people. The effort and the attention and what they’ve been doing — they’ve been very focused during our practices which is awesome to see.”

“Where we start is not going to be how we finish. I’m out there to be competitive, but technically what we do now has no bearing on what we do when playoffs come, so that actually takes some weight off my shoulders to allow some other players to get an opportunity to go out there and show me what they can do.”

Fall Mountain

Led by their juniors and seniors, the Wildcats hope to use a difficult regular season to prepare for the Division III postseason tournament, a common theme among lower-division teams adjusting to the regional regular season schedule. Head coach Lance Cormier, in his first full season at the helm, will also be leaning on his two sophomores to compliment the upperclassmen-heavy lineup. The potent offense will be key to carrying this team to success in 2021.

Coach: Lance Cormier (second year)

2019 record: 2-16

Top players returning: Jr. Lucas Gay, Sr. Hayden Chandler

Newcomers to watch: Sr. Lucus Roy, Sr. Noah Blake, Sr. Curtis Hosley, Jr. Jakob Lovell, Jr. Domonic Van Leare-Nutting

First game: April 12 at Newport HS

Coach’s thoughts:

“Our schedule is going to be pretty tough because we play some Division II opponents … so we’re going to have a challenging schedule, but as far as teams in our own division, I think we’ll be very competitive.”

“I do think the group is committed. They’re pretty excited to play baseball. … I think right now, our hitting is probably our strong point. And we’re kind of working our way trying to find our pitching. We’re a pretty senior group. I think from that standpoint we have some experience.”

“I think this is a really positive group and they want to play and I think they’re ready to play. It’s very encouraging. So far it’s been really positive from what I’ve seen.”

Hinsdale

An inexperienced, but athletic, Hinsdale squad will take the field this season. The Pacers plan to use the smallball approach to make things happen in the regular season heading into the Division IV tournament. Defense will be the key for this group, said head coach Sam Kilelee.

Coach: Sam Kilelee (four year)

2019 record: 7-9, lost to Lin-Wood in first round of NHIAA Division IV tournament

Top players lost: Greg Howard, Dylan Harden, Ryan Lee

Top players returning: Dan Tetreault, Jason Cowan, Andrew Lindsell, Aidan Davis

Newcomers to watch: Brayden Eastman, Josh Southwick, Arth Patel

First game: April 12 at Mascenic HS

Coach’s thoughts:

“We’re going to have to do the little things right in order to win games. We’re going to have to bunt, we’re going to have to steal, we’re going to have to run the bases correctly, we’re going to have to play good defense.”

“We’re probably the most athletic group that we’ve had since I took over. So, we’re going to have to play small ball a lot. Defense is going to be a crucial piece for us.”

“I just think that they’re really grateful and really excited to be playing. [Losing last season] hit a lot of them hard. A lot of them don’t play other sports at Hinsdale, so it hit a couple of them hard not being able to play last year, so they’re coming ready to work and with enthusiasm and excitement and it’s been good to see.”

{div class=”asset-tagline text-muted”}Chris Detwiler can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1411, or cdetwiler@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris — Detwiler.{/div}